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sandp miniStandard & Poor’s released a new report describing the risk of cyberattacks on the banking industry. While the industry has taken many precautions, cyber threats in the U.S. and around the world are on the rise. Millions of customers were affected by the 2013 Target data breach, and there have been numerous small hits on institutions holding more valuable data since then.

The report identifies terrorists, unfriendly foreign governments, criminal groups and interests engaged in economic espionage as some of the chief perpetrators of cybercrime. Attacks often include virus and malware infection, attacks on linked third-party businesses, phishing, and locking patrons out of their bank’s website.

Key preemptive tactics S&P advises for institutions to take include increased employee education, internal technological upgrades, greater resources directed towards combatting cyber threats, creation of emergency containment plans, firming up backup data and systems infrastructures, and simulated attack dry-runs.

While some attacks have breached the data of various banks, Standard & Poor reports that nothing overly serious has yet been lost to cyber threats. Nevertheless, the potential for stronger and more determined attacks is driving spending on technology and investment in cyber defense personnel and training ever upward in the banking industry. It is critical to advance ongoing national and international efforts to increase cooperation between governments, and between federal intelligence agencies and financial institutions, in order to streamline preparation and response tactics, share information, and increase cooperation between public and private institutions.

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